SOME REFLECTIONS ON SOLA FIDE

The term Sola Fide, or faith alone, is one that was at the forefront of the Protestant Reformation.  Even today, this term is one that drives a wedge between Protestants and Catholics.  The term itself can be defined as the “gracious act of God in Christ Jesus, whom man can take to himself in faith alone[1].”  In a recent article for the Evangelical Theological Society, Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner looks at Sola Fide, and why it is still important today.

Dr. Schreiner starts his work by saying Sola Fide is part of our identity as evangelicals, and is firmly entrenched in the Gospel message[2].  Dr. Schreiner discusses the Roman Catholic argument against faith alone which is found in James 2:24.  The words, faith alone, are used in relation to works, and make it seem that Sola Fide is contradicting scripture.  In regards to this Dr. Schreiner states, “The most persuasive advocates of sola fide were quite aware of what James taught and never denied the contribution of James[3].”

The reformation term is often one that is misunderstood, and the meaning at times to watered down to its least complex essence.  Sola Fide does not mean that faith and works will never meet.  That would not be a good use of exegesis, because James also tells us that faith without works is dead.  They are not foes on opposite sides of a battle field.  They are to be looked up as one being in relation to justification, and it is required to biblically say that we are justified by faith alone[4].

It is biblically accurate because we are a fallen people who will undoubtedly mess up.  Dr. Schreiner makes a great point when he states, “Justification is by faith alone because it relies and rests on Christ alone[5].”  If justification were by works, or some combination with faith, we would be relying on ourselves for this precious gift of God.

Dr. Schreiner’s assessment of sola fide is a good reminder of one of the reasons the Reformations started.  It is a good reminder that salvation is from Christ, and not of ourselves.  We have oversimplified the term to make it mean something that it was never intended to do.  It helps identify who we are as evangelicals, and helps us remember where our hope lies.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Berkouwer, G.C. Studies in Dogmatics:  Faith and Justification. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954.

Schreiner, Thomas R. “Some Reflections on Sola Fide.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 58, no. 1 (2015, March 1): 5-14.

[1] G.C. Berkouwer, Studies in Dogmatics:  Faith and Justification (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), 92.

[2] Thomas R. Schreiner, “Some Reflections on Sola Fide,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 58, no. 1 (2015, March 1): 5.

[3] Ibid, 7.

[4] Thomas R. Schreiner, “Some Reflections On Sola Fide,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 58, no. 1 (2015, March 1): 7.

[5] Ibid, 12.

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One thought on “Article Critique: Some Reflections on Sola Fide

  1. Sola Fide is, As you point out, an oxymoron. It says that the Mafia dons are right. AS long as you “believe,” you can do all the evil you want. If Faith is not *backed up* by good actions, it isn’t real. If “good works” are generated as an expression of Faith, the Faith is real.

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